Education/News/January 2020/Wikimedia & Education Greenhouse – Highlights from the second unit of the online course

Wikimedia & Education Greenhouse – Highlights from the second unit of the online course

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Summary: How do I know if my community will really benefit from the project I want to implement? What is a logic model? Where can I find funding to bring my project idea to life? These are just a few of the questions addressed during the second unit of the Wikimedia & Education Greenhouse online course.

The second unit of the online course was launched on September 30, 2019. In the following 10 weeks, our participants worked through 5 different modules to develop their project management skills as applied to Wikimedia education initiatives. They selected a project idea they want to develop (or have developed in the past) and worked through a series of assignments to build a final project proposal. Project management skills can be key for Wikimedians who want to find better resources and allies to bring to their projects. Having these knowledge and skills helps them to effectively organize and present their project ideas into high impact initiatives that will benefit not only Wikimedia communities and projects, but also their local education contexts.

What exactly did this unit cover?
Needs assessment
Participants discussed the importance of collecting data and assessing the problems, gaps, and needs in the scope of their projects. Identifying and understanding these needs (via surveys, interviews, observation, etc.) will be the first step to framing an impactful project. We did a mini-needs assessment ourselves and learned that by the end of this module, half of the participants who had declared that they were not sure/didn’t know what “needs assessment” meant ended up creating a Problem Tree for their project as a needs assessment exercise.

Logic Models
After identifying the problems (along with their causes and effects) that our participants wanted to address through their projects, it was time to start thinking of an action plan. Logic models allow us to create a visual display of the activities we will develop in our project and how they connect to the intended outcomes and long-term impact we expect to achieve by logical cause-and-effect relationships. It illustrates how the project is intended to work. This proved to be a great new challenge to try for our participants!

Stakeholder analysis
Stakeholders are any individual, group, or institution that have an interest or involvement in a project or are affected by it. They also could have the power or influence to affect a project (negatively or positively). Participants used a power-interest matrix to understand their internal and external stakeholders, and identify potential new partnerships for their projects. This in turn helps them identify how to best manage their time, energy, and communications strategy with the different stakeholders involved.

Budgets are another important step in your planning process. By creating a budget you decide how you are going to use your resources in the different stages of your project, you can understand your restrictions, and this organized financial data can help you to manage uncertainty. Participants explored different approaches to planning, managing, and reporting a budget for the project idea they’re developing.

Grant writing
Grant writing is the process in which you complete an application or proposal to gain access to a funding opportunity for your project. This can help you secure financial resources needed to achieve the project goals. But it goes beyond that! Through a series of exercises and discussions, participants reflected on the elements that make a grant proposal successful and they shared their experiences in grant applications.

What did participants think about this unit?
Florencia Claes from Spain told us:

“This has been the unit that I have used the most in practice and it has helped me a lot to think about things that until now I had not thought about. So thank you very much. Compared to the first one, where I thought I wouldn't learn much in the course (I'm sorry to be so sincere), this one has been very useful. What I liked most about this unit was being aware of the question "what will the people involved gain from this?" It may seem very obvious, but it has helped me a lot both for the project and for my classes. Being able to think about what the students will gain and being able to explain it to them makes the project more attractive to them.”

Agu Zanotti from Argentina told us he learned that:

“Planning is essential to create these types of projects. I learned a lot about how to define strategies, gather the stakeholders, make it attractive and overcome evaluation rubrics. I am still working on polishing and writing the final bits.”

Amber Berson from Canada shared her experience as well:

“I really enjoyed and found valuable the stakeholder analysis exercise. It helped me to conceive better planning tools for the planning portion of the project.”

Additionally, at the end of this unit we conducted a quick anonymous survey to see how our participants were using this online course and the aspects they have found more helpful so far. Below you can see some of their thoughts:

“Unit 1 helped me to think critically as an Educator and better understand education in global perspective. Unit 1 was really interesting to me and discussing the SDG 4 was very interesting. I was able to discuss most of the component with my peer educators and also Wikipedia facilitators.”

“(Unit 2) has been especially practical -- not just for giving me ideas about how I might better contribute to WP but also for other project work I'm involved in.”

“(I learned that) it is important to identify the benefit others will derive from my proposal. That when writing the grant it is necessary to do it in a personalized way for each site. That making the budget makes you aware of what time is worth.”

Thank you all for your feedback! We are also taking note of your suggestions to replicate the course in other languages, to invite more education specialists to record a video lesson, and to facilitate easier access to more case studies and research from and about the Wikimedia education community.

What is next?
Unit 3 of this online course is now open! Participants are expanding their project proposal by incorporating monitoring and evaluation plans, and exploring advocacy skills for Wikimedia education projects. Are you interested in joining? The course is open until March 31st! Register here. If you're curious about the project ideas developed by participants of this online course, keep an eye out for the features coming up in February in our social media channels!

Thank you!
We would like to express our gratitude to the awesome professionals who supported the development of this unit by providing insightful consultations to our team and leading virtual lessons for our participants. Thank you, Dana McCurdy, Jorge Vargas, James Baldwin, Woubzena Jifar, and Krishna Chaitanya!

About the Wikimedia & Education Greenhouse:
The Wikimedia & Education Greenhouse is a pilot project being developed by the Education team at the Wikimedia Foundation during 2019/2020. It uses a startup incubator model alongside a rigorous online course in Wikimedia & Education project management to equip Wikimedians with the skills, knowledge and support they need to bring their ideas to life and scale them into high-impact education initiatives in their communities. It supports project leaders to structure their activities on the idea of knowledge equity, considering the challenges and opportunities of their Wikimedia community and their local education contexts.

Did you miss the highlights article from Unit 1? You can find it here.

You can find the Wikimedia Foundation Education team on Facebook and Twitter.